I N T H E K I T C H E N
I have mentioned this before, but recently Rob bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday. I've been curious about making ice cream at home for awhile, but it was kind of intimidating to me and I hate buying kitchen uni-taskers. So far, the ice cream maker has earned its precious real estate in our tiny kitchen. Ice cream is made from really simple, inexpensive ingredients - milk, cream, eggs, sugar, so churning out a batch is really only as expensive as how you flavor it. The only difficult part of making it is being patient while everything cools.
Before making ice cream for the first time, I consulted some of my favorite sources: David Lebovitz, Cooks’ Illustrated and The New York Times cooking section. What I’ve learned is that ice cream is all about texture, and achieving a smooth creamy texture is all about balancing fat and the freezing process. I love making French-style ice cream with a custard base because fatty egg yolks help achieve the smooth texture. I also like the flavor and color they add. While cooking the egg yolks can be a delicate process, it’s made easy with use of an instant-read thermometer.
So far we have made three flavors this summer: vanilla, mint chocolate chip, and coffee chocolate chip. Here is the recipe we use for a base, which can be easily flavored by either infusing the milk before making the custard or mixing in another ingredient.
French-Style Ice Cream Base
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
4 egg yolks (large)
Start by setting up a few things in advance: make an ice bath in a large bowl and place a medium bowl inside of it. This will be used to cool down the cooked custard base. Stick it in the fridge until ready to use. Whisking together milk, cream, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium-sized pot over a gentle heat until the milk is 175 degrees. Remove from heat. While the milk is heating up, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until pale in color. Once the milk has been warmed, temper the yolks by streaming in about 1/3 cup of milk slowly. This will bring the eggs up to temperature without cooking them. If this process is new, start with a smaller amount of milk at a time and add more. Add another 1/3 of a cup (again, slowly). Add the mixture back into the pot with milk and return it to a medium-low heat. Constantly stir the mixture. Once the temperature registers between 180 - 185 degrees, strain it into the bowl in the ice bath. Keep stirring to bring the temperature down to about room temp. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the temperature is below 40 degrees. I usually just make the base the day before I want to make the ice cream so I can ensure it will have enough time to cool.
Once the ice cream base has cooled, it can be prepared according to the directions on the ice cream machine, for us this means churning it in a bowl (that has been for at least 24 hours… we just store it in the freezer so it is always ready) for about 20 minutes and then freezing for a few hours to harden. I love pouring in melted chocolate during the last few minutes of churning to dot the ice cream with tiny flecks of chocolate.
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop, Instant Read Thermometer